Wickman, Matthew 02 Matthew Wickman, Director of the Humanities Center

Interests: Matthew Wickman began working at BYU in 2000 as a specialist in eighteenth-century British literature. His interests include Scottish literary studies of the eighteenth century and after, literary theory, intellectual history, Romanticism, Modernism, modernity, and interdisciplinary humanities.


Photo of Earl BrownEarl Brown

Earl Kjar Brown works as an Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics. He received a PhD in Hispanic Linguistics at the University of New Mexico in 2008, and his doctoral thesis was published in the LINCOM Studies in Romance Linguistics series in 2009. His research agenda centers on the quantification of language variation, especially in Spanish. In most of this research, he employs the acoustic software Praat and uses the corpus linguistics techniques of text searching, data manipulation, and statistical analysis with the programming languages R, Python and Julia. Some of his research has appeared in the journals Language Variation and ChangeInternational Journal of BilingualismJournal of Linguistic GeographyJournal of Research Design and Statistics in Linguistics and Communication Science, and Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory.

Photo of Brian Jackson

Brian Jackson

Brian Jackson, a native of Kearns, Utah, would love to sit down and play video games, but he never does. An associate professor of English, he sometimes eats the apple’s core. He studies metacognition and writing, and he was once in a punk rock band, for a very short time, called Headless Prom Queen. He loves teaching, even during a pandemic, even though, contra Bob Dylan, he cannot see through their masks, so he can’t tell what they think. His book Teaching Mindful Writers was just published by Utah State University Press, and he’s ashamed he didn’t have the courage to introduce himself to Ben Folds when a girl got him backstage after the show at the Zephyr Club in 1997. He has seven screws in his left elbow, and he teaches first-year writing and an advanced style course for English majors. He does not ever, under any circumstances and for any reason, social media.

Photo of Francesca LawsonFrancesca Lawson

Dr. Francesca R. Sborgi Lawson is the Humanities Professor of Ethnomusicology and an Associate Professor in the Department of Comparative Arts and Letters at Brigham Young University. She received a B.M. degree in harp performance from Brigham Young University, an M.A. degree in ethnomusicology from the University of California at Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. degree in ethnomusicology from the University of Washington in Seattle. She conducted research on the inter-relationships of language and music in the narrative arts of Tianjin, China as a Fulbright-Hays and National Academy of Sciences Research Fellow. Her first book, The Narrative Arts of Tianjin: Between Music and Language, was published by Ashgate Press in January 2011, and her second book, The Women of Quyi: Liminal Voices and Androgynous Bodies, was published in 2017 by Routledge.

Photo of Marie OrtonMarie Orton

Marie Orton completed her B.A. degree in Humanities at BYU, and her M.A. and PhD at the University of Chicago in Italian Language and Literature. Before joining the BYU faculty this year, she taught at Duke University, and Truman State University. One area of her research deals with inscriptions of violence in autobiographical writings, and she has published multiple articles on Italian survivors of the Shoah, and members of the terrorist organization, the Brigate Rosse. However, her major area of research focuses on the cultural ramifications of migration into Italy during the past two decades, particularly the use of humor by migrant authors to subvert negative social stereotypes about migration. She has published an anthology of writings by seventeen migrant authors, Multicultural Literature in Contemporary Italy, co-edited with Graziella Parati, and translated Alessandro Dal Lago’s study Non-Persons: The Exclusion of Migrants in a Global Society. Her chapter for International Migration Literature through the University of Vienna, as well as her translation of Edmondo DeAmicis’ novel Sull’Oceano are forthcoming in January, 2017. She is currently editing a pedagogical database for Language Tribe, based in Turin, and writing an article, “Female Voices of Migration,” to be included in a Festschrift in honor of Rebecca West.

Rex Nielson

Rex P. Nielson is an Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Brigham Young University. He received his Ph.D. in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies at Brown University. Before joining the Spanish and Portuguese Department at BYU, he held appointments at Harvard University and Bryant University. He teaches all levels of Portuguese language as well as a variety of courses on Luso-Afro-Brazilian literature and culture. His research focuses primarily on gender in Brazilian culture, ecocriticism and environmental ethics in Brazil and the global south, and language and literature pedagogy. He is also an active translator and recently received recommendation from the National Library in Brazil for his translation of Sérgio Sant’Anna’s “Um discurso sobre o método” [Another Discourse on Method]. He has also translated the work of Luiz Ruffato, Bernardo Carvalho, Machado de Assis, and Eça de Queirós. Rex and his wife, Natalie, an adjunct professor in the Department of Comparative Arts and Letters, live in Provo and are the proud parents of five children.

steve-riepSteve Riep

Steve Riep, Associate Professor of Chinese and comparative literature, has taught at BYU since 2003. A product of the University of California system (BA Berkeley, MA/PhD UCLA and Postdoc, Davis), he specializes in teaching modern and contemporary fiction, poetry, film and culture, but also teaches Business Chinese for the Global Management Center and Asian Literary Traditions for both the Comparative Literature and Asian Studies programs. He has offered senior capstone seminars to Chinese majors on utopia and dystopia in traditional and modern Chinese literature; cultural production under the Nationalist authoritarian rule in Taiwan and the depiction of disabilities in modern and contemporary literature and visual arts. His research interests include disability studies; cultural production under authoritarian regimes; war, memory and literature and ecocriticism. He is currently working on a book manuscript analyzing how disabilities are depicted and used in contemporary Chinese literature and visual culture from 1900 to the present. He has also translated Chinese fiction, poetry, drama and essays from China and Taiwan into English.

Photo of Laura Catharine Smith

Laura Catharine Smith

Laura Catharine Smith (Associate Professor, Germanic Linguistics) joined the faculty in 2004 after earning a Joint PhD in Theoretical and Germanic Linguistics at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. She had previously earned a BA(Hons) and BEd (Intermediate and Secondary teaching of French and History/Social Sciences) at Queen’s University and an MA in Historical Linguistics (Calgary). Thanks to DAAD fellowships, Laura studied twice under Theo Vennemann at the University of Munich.

Laura regularly teaches classes in phonetics, the structure and history of German, and seminars on proficiency, second language acquisition, experimental linguistics, and older Germanic languages. She enjoys helping students develop their academic writing skills. Her research spans L2 pronunciation and perception, increasing L2 proficiency, and theoretical and historical morpho-phonology, especially how syllables, feet and stress placement shape language change and acquisition.

Laura serves as co-editor for the sister series, (Open) Studies in Germanic Linguistics (LSP and Benjamins respectively) and is on the Executive Board for the Society for Germanic Linguistics. She has also served as Utah chapter president for the AATG and is serving on the FAC.

During downtime, Laura hangs out with her horse, Eddie Vann Halenn, and her cat, Molly, whose tail occasionally Zoom bombs meetings.

Paul Westover headshot

Paul Westover

Paul Westover joined the BYU English Department in 2008. He specializes in British Romantic literature, literary geography, and the history of literary tourism. Paul is the author of Necromanticism: Traveling to Meet the Dead, 1750–1860 (2012) and co-editor, with Ann Wierda Roland, of Transatlantic Literature and Author Love in the Nineteenth Century (2016). He is also one of the lead editors for two large digital projects: William Wordsworth’s Guide to the Lakes: a Romantic Circles Electronic Edition (2012, revised 2020) and Dorothy Wordsworth’s Lake District (forthcoming).